- Tell The Truth, The Whole Truth, and Nothing But The Truth.
This can be highly effective, and very convincing, if you know your subject material well, and are a good speaker.… And IF the truth is really what you want your audience to hear and believe.The Truth, as a matter of habit, has some disadvantages: You have to learn and remember a whole lot of facts, and keep them straight in your head. The facts might not always be what you wish them to be. And, alas, the truth is sometimes very boring…
This one is simple, straight-forward, and obvious. Just lie and say whatever you want to. It has the advantages that you don’t need to memorize so many facts, and you can make up new facts when the currently-existing ones don’t suit your purposes. The disadvantages are that you might get caught in a lie, and that would destroy your credibility.
“You’re never going to make it in politics. You just don’t know how to lie.”
Richard M. Nixon
Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents, Cormac O’Brien, page 228.
Lie By Omission and Half-Truths
This is also known as Suppressed Evidence.
This one is more subtle. It has the advantage that you can’t get caught in a lie, because everything that you say is true. You just happily fail to mention all of those bothersome little facts that do not support your point of view. Should a critic point out one of those annoying undesired facts, you can at least feign innocent ignorance, or claim that the fact is really just an unimportant, trivial detail, not worth mentioning.
For example: In 1908, the Lutheran minister Dr. Frank Nathan Daniel Buchman got into a squabble over money with the trustee committee of their hospice for young men in Philadelphia, and in an angry huff, Buchman resigned and got on a boat for Europe. He ended up at a large religious convention in Keswick, England, where he felt that he had a spiritual transformation. He felt moved to write letters of apology to all six of the trustees with whom he had squabbled, humbly asking their forgiveness. Buchman said that none of them even bothered to answer his letters.
That was rather unkind of them, wasn’t it? No wonder Buchman had a disagreement with them, if they were really so haughty and so inconsiderate that they would not even acknowledge a man’s humble apology and request for forgiveness…
There is just one small detail that Frank Buchman left out in his telling of that story: Buchman didn’t put any return address on the envelopes that he mailed back to Philadelphia.
Vice President Dick Cheney told CNN on May 8, 2001, that nuclear energy “doesn’t emit any carbon dioxide at all.”
(CNN, 8 May 2001. Also see http://www.nirs.org/factsheets/KYOTONUC.html)
That is lying by omission. It is true that nuclear reactors do not create carbon dioxide while burning their nuclear fuel, but the process of mining the uranium is done by machines like bulldozers that create lots of carbon dioxide and air pollution as they burn diesel fuel. And so does the process of refining the ore and converting it into usable nuclear fuel, and transporting it to the reactor. And then there is the problem of disposal of the nuclear waste. That’s another giant hole to be dug with diesel-powered machines. If the whole fuel cycle is taken into account, then nuclear power creates several times as much CO2 as renewable energy sources. (The Party’s Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies, Richard Heinberg, page 135.)
Bill Wilson gave us lots of good examples of that technique. In chapter 8 of the Big Book, “To Wives”, the wives of the recovering alcoholics seem to give advice to the wives of other alcoholics:
As wives of Alcoholics Anonymous, we would like you to feel that we understand as perhaps few can. We want to analyze mistakes we have made.
A.A. Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 8, To Wives, page 104.
Sometimes there were other women. How heartbreaking was this discovery; how cruel to be told that they understood our men as we did not!
A.A. Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 8, To Wives, page 106.
We wives found that, like everybody else, we were afflicted with pride, self-pity, vanity and all the things which go to make up the self-centered person; and we were not above selfishness or dishonesty. As our husbands began to apply spiritual principles in their lives, we began to see the desirability of doing so too.
At first, some of us thought we did not need this help. We thought, on the whole, we were pretty good women, capable of being nicer if our husbands stopped drinking. But it was a silly idea that we were too good to need God. Now we try to put spiritual principles to work in every department of our lives. … We urge you to try our program, for nothing will be so helpful to your husband as the radically changed attitude toward him which God will show you how to have. Go along with your husband if you possibly can.
A.A. Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 8, To Wives, page 116.
Yes, Bill Wilson really would like you to feel that the wives understand as perhaps few can.
The big problem with those quotes is that the To Wives chapter of the Big Book was not written by Lois Wilson or any of the other wives of the alcoholics — Bill Wilson wrote it all. Lois wanted to write it, but Bill didn’t trust his wife to say the right things, or to get the “style” the way he wanted it, he said, so he wrote the whole chapter himself, while pretending to be his own wife.
What a huge difference that one tiny little fact makes. That chapter reads entirely differently, it becomes a sick twisted joke, when you know who the real author was.
Bill Wilson perceptively analyzed his wife’s many mistakes for her, and confessed all of Lois’ sins for her (in print), and honestly admitted her many failings: her moral shortcomings and dishonesty and selfishness and her silly thinking that she was too good to need God (page 116). (She was “selfish” while she worked in Loesser’s department store to support his unemployed thieving philandering drunken ass for years and years.)
Then Bill the housewife even lectured “the other girls” not to nag their husbands about their drinking, or else those guys will get mad and go sleep with their mistresses (page 111)… Like Bill did.
Bill Wilson gave us many more examples of that Lie By Omission technique. Here, he is talking about doing Step Five, where we confess all of our sins and moral shortcomings to someone else:
This is perhaps difficult, especially discussing our defects with another person. We think we have done well enough in admitting these things to ourselves. There is doubt about that. In actual practice, we usually find a solitary self-appraisal insufficient. Many of us thought it necessary to go much further. We will be more reconciled to discussing ourselves with another person when we see good reasons why we should do so. The best reason first: If we skip this vital step, we may not overcome drinking. Time after time newcomers have tried to keep to themselves certain facts about their lives. Trying to avoid this humbling experience, they have turned to easier methods. Almost invariably they got drunk. Having persevered with the rest of the program, they wondered why they fell. We think the reason is that they never completed their housecleaning. They took inventory all right, but hung on to some of the worst items in stock. They only thought they had lost their egoism and fear; they only thought they had humbled themselves. But they had not learned enough of humility, fearlessness and honesty, in the sense we find it necessary, until they told someone else all their life story.
A.A. Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 6, Into Action, pages 72-73.
Wow. That’s really impressive. I guess we had better get down on our knees right now, and start confessing everything, holding nothing back!
Notice that the rest of the logic is missing. That is, where do we see the report on the other people, who did confess everything, and then successfully abstained from drinking? There is no such report, because they all relapsed too. The early New York group that Bill Wilson was writing about had a very high relapse rate. Fully fifty percent of the original Big Book authors relapsed and returned to a life of drinking. In Akron, Bill Wilson and Doctor Bob calculated that they had only a 5% success rate in sobering up alcoholics (which is the same as the success rate of people who quit on their own). Bill Wilson couldn’t keep ’em sober not for nuthin’. The cult religion routine didn’t work at all.
But Bill didn’t want to talk about that, because he was a faithful Buchmanite who believed that you must confess your sins to everyone else in your group if you are to be holy. So Bill was doing everything in his power to make everyone holy, even if it didn’t make them sober.
And note how Bill also gave us illustrations of a few other propaganda techniques:
- The Straw Man Tactic:
“We think we have done well enough in admitting these things to ourselves.”
“They only thought they had lost their egoism and fear; they only thought they had humbled themselves. But they had not learned enough of humility, fearlessness and honesty…”
Those people who think that they don’t really need to do all of Bill Wilson’s wonderful 12 Steps are really stupid egotistical dishonest cowards, aren’t they?
- Hiding Behind Others:
The use of “We” to create the false impression that it was more than just the opinion of Bill Wilson — that many people had done a whole lot of research on the subject, and had gained a lot of valuable experience in what really works to keep people sober: “We think… We usually find…” The truth is, when Bill wrote that paragraph in December of 1938 and January of 1939, there were only 60 or 70 sober A.A. members in the whole world, and they didn’t all agree with him. Their major experience was in watching Bill Wilson’s religious program fail to keep them sober, with most of the early A.A. members relapsing and leaving. Here, Bill Wilson was really just pushing his own strange Buchmanite religious beliefs, and trying to convince others that his ideas were the only things that work.
- Lying by Omission (some more):
Half of those few sober A.A. members didn’t like or do Bill Wilson’s Twelve Steps. They were the members who demanded that Bill’s 12 religious steps be called “suggestions”, not requirements, because they saw clearly that Bill’s dogmatic religiosity would drive away many of the alcoholics whom the program was supposed to help. See page 59 of the Big Book — the steps are only “suggested as a program of recovery”. But here, Bill wants to fool you into thinking that all of the sober members did Step Five thoroughly, holding nothing back, and that’s why they were sober.
- Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc: “It happened after ‘X’, so it was caused by ‘X’.”
“Time after time newcomers have tried to keep to themselves certain facts about their lives. … Almost invariably they got drunk.”
Bill Wilson doesn’t really give us any evidence that withholding embarrassing personal secrets makes people drink alcohol, just like he doesn’t give us any evidence that confessing sins to other A.A. members makes people get sober. He just wants to fool us into thinking it. I can with equal validity argue that they all relapsed because they wore clothes to the meetings:
Time after time, we have seen newcomers make the stupid mistake of wearing clothes to A.A. meetings. Almost all of the newcomers who relapsed wore clothes. (What sins were they trying to hide?) Almost invariably, they got drunk. And almost all of the people who wore clothes to A.A. meetings eventually dropped out.
Conclusion: Obviously, wearing clothes to A.A. meetings causes people to drink alcohol.
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